Friday, January 11, 2008

If You Recycle, Are You Really Saving Trees?

It Seems Logical: If you print a book, you need paper. If you use virgin paper for your book, you have to cut down a tree to make the paper. Therefore, you are reducing the world's forest. Well, not really, as it turns out. "Pulp" trees are faster growing than lumber trees. Like Christmas trees, they are planted and cultivated. Farmed. The more paper you use, the more trees get planted. This excerpt from a story by Sally Herigstad in MSN MONEY, says it well enough.

We've all heard: Recycle paper and save the trees. But according to James
Wetzel, a professor of environmental economics at Virginia Commonwealth
University, the end result of all that recycling is fewer acres of timberland,
not more. More than one-third of paper pulp now comes from recycled sources.

"Alas, one result is a decrease in demand for pulpwood -- thus the price of
timberland falls," Wetzel says. If timber companies sell fewer trees for paper,
they find more-profitable things to do with the land, like sell it to

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions," Wetzel says. "If you want
people to plant more trees, they need a reason. In 30 to 50 years, they will
harvest those trees."

Shredded paper may not make it into recycled paper, anyway. Anca Novacovici,
founder of Eco-Coach, says, "Shredded paper cannot be recycled with regular paper because the fibers are cut short. Therefore it is demoted to a lower-grade material."

To me, it still makes sense to recycle paper when you can because it saves (maybe) some energy. It just doesn't save the forests, so don't lose sleep over printing your book when recycled paper isn't practical.--The Publishing Pro, LLC